Following harsh words from an HIV-positive performer, the county closes the STD testing site
It was already a bad week for the adult industry’s health clinic and, impressively, it just got a lot worse. Today, Los Angeles public health officials shut down the Sherman Oaks clinic. Just yesterday, Derrick Burts, the porn actor at the center of the latest HIV outbreak, spoke out against Adult Industry Medical, which oversees STD testing in the business. The county says the closure has nothing to do with Burts’ criticism of the operation and is instead the result of its application for a license being incomplete. So, it’s an issue of shoddy paperwork (which, OK, isn’t the most reassuring thing, coming from clinic that handles STD tests).
Now, county officials, who have long been at war with the industry over it’s refusal to mandate condoms, are telling performers to go to county clinics instead. Public Health Director Jonathan Fielding told the Los Angeles Times, “All the places that we’re involved with are certainly places where people can feel safe — the privacy and confidentiality are maintained.” That’s of little comfort to performers like Lorelei Lee, who wrote me in an e-mail, “What makes me feel safe is self-determination, and being treated by health care providers who have some respect for, and understanding of, the work I do. Those were the providers found at AIM.”
More critically, AIM maintains an easily accessible database of performers’ current test results, which can be checked before shoots. As for how this absence will be addressed, Fielding told the Times, “I don’t know the answer to that — you’ll have to ask them. Our feeling has been that that is not sufficient to fully protect the performers. They need to use condoms so that these workers will not be put in a position where they are exposed to potentially life-threatening diseases.”
Understandably, that position, ehem, is not popular with porn stars. Performer Madison Young tweeted her frustration today: “So upset about AIM being shut down. This won’t make things safer. This just puts us at greater danger. We need knowledge & choice for safer sex.” On a similar note, Lorelei asked, “What kind of sense does it make to take away the one tool we actually have? I am so completely bored of the impenetrable condescension of health care workers who pretend to know more about my experience than I do.”